Cabbages, Choughs and Coastline

Wednesday, November 04, 2015 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


Words and photographs from 20/10/2015
It's pretty difficult to find a new vantage point from which to photograph Rhossili these days with most angles having been done to death not only by myself but also by the thousands of visitors who walk these cliffs each year. I was rather pleased with this effort from the afternoon of October 20th as a result which shows the scene looking North across the Vile (an ancient medieval field system in case you were wondering). There was more than a faint whiff of Cabbage in the air, can't imagine why, and I'm particularly pleased with the way in which I'd arranged for a para-glider to leap from Rhossili Down at just the right moment. In fact the only thing missing was one or two of the Cabbage Whites which were fluttering across the field from time to time.

P1150957 - The Vile

Smell wasn't my only sense being called into action along this stretch of coastline as the soundtrack turned out to be something pretty special as well. Right from the off there were the harsh calls of numerous Jackdaws which intermingled every now and again with the slightly softer yet somehow more insistent vocalisations of a passing Chough. In fact Choughs were making their presence heard on a very regular basis with at least five different birds present between Rhossili and Mewslade. That count may actually have been even higher but such was their mobility that an accurate count proved very difficult to ascertain. Changing pitch somewhat brings us to the Goldfinches of which there were several flocks on the wing numbering perhaps a couple of hundred individuals in total. The biggest of these was feeding in the Nitten field along with a couple of Linnets but not much else. Top noise of the day though goes to the pair of Grey Seals just off Tears Point. Their baritone rumbles couldn't help but bring a smile to my face as did the strange vocalisations from this Raven at the same location. It looked for all the world as if it was trying to tell me something but for the life of me I can't work out what.

P1150962 - Raven, Gower

What I hadn't expected to see any more of this year were Wheatears, but low and behold there were no less than three individuals dotted from Rhossili around to Fall Bay. None were particularly close, nor were they actively feeding, but it really can't be long now before they make the jump and are on their way. I mean, have they not seen what's building out in the Atlantic? A species certainly not planning on any lengthy trips is the Wren of which there must have been hundreds of individuals along my route judging from the number of calls I could hear. Only occasionally would the bird itself appear and I was particularly pleased to stumble across what must have been a family group numbering at least six. The juveniles looked to be well grown but could this have been a relatively late brood given that they were all still together? Jackdaws on the other hand require no such excuses to gather and I was constantly disturbing large groups as I went on my way.

P1150964 - Jackdaws, Gower

P1150958 - Fall Bay

My main target for the day was Mewslade where I hoped to find my first Redwing with a couple of birds being reported there over the previous weekend. Alas it seemed that they'd already moved on but there was plenty more to keep my interest including both Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker. I also enjoyed a chat with another of the local Choughs but all I got in return were a series of angry screeches. There's no reasoning with some creatures.

P1150972 - Mewslade Valley

Up to now the day had been pretty warm, t-shirt weather in fact, but as the afternoon wore on a definite nip was developing in the air. Despite this the light was fantastic and none of the images I took came even close to capturing it to full effect. Never let it be said that landscape photography is easy.

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